Thursday, September 29, 2022

Leland fire station cost increases 13%, animal control facility to finish in October

An image from the groundbreaking at the Fire Station 51 site. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — Out of a pair of new projects at a government complex in Leland, one is about to finish up on time while a larger project will endure a cost increase.

The town of Leland has added almost $450,000 to a project budget that will fund its new fire station, located on the operations campus. 

READ MORE: Leland to construct 1,800-square foot amphitheater in municipal park.

The town bought the 17-acre industrial site off Highway 74 in 2020 for $2.8 million with the intention of building it out. The site already contained five buildings, which the town converted into warehouses to store supplies and equipment for numerous town departments and training space for public safety.

Brannon Richards, the town public services director, confirmed the town is exploring adding a live-burn training facility and a town vehicle service center. While the site’s infrastructure is enough to cover the town’s needs, new projects will require more stormwater management and paving.

“There’s a lot of opportunity with that site given the size and its proximity to [highways] 74 and 76,” Richards said.

For now it’s focused on the newly constructed fire station, which remains on schedule, but the town council approved a change order on Sept. 15 that increased its bottom line 433,278.52. The overall projects raised by about 13%, totaling $3 million for the station rather than its original contract price of $2.6 million.

“Part of the reason for that change order were some scope changes during construction,” Richards said. “Also, when we initiated this contract it was in October of 2021. Obviously, there have been some material increases.”

The facility on Popular Street NE is a design-and-build contract with Wilmington-based Environments Unlimited, which council approved Nov. 30, 2021. 

To fund the increase, the town moved $350,000 from the Municipal Operations Compus fund and $100,000 from the town hall updates budget. A budget amendment memo from Leland’s finance director, Carly Hagg, said moving the funds will close the operations campus capital project, already complete, and a former town hall project fund.

Construction on the fire station began in June and is expected to finish by May 2023.

Richards said the price tag is still well under the budget of other fire stations being built in the region. A new WIlmington Fire Department station to be built is $5.7 million and Richards said the projects are comparable.

The building will have four bays, a training room and a fitness center. It is the town’s first piece of new construction at the 1897 Andrew Jackson Hwy.

Leland Fire Chief Ronnie Hayes said the town will continue to use the old fire station on Old Village Road but as what is unclear; a spokesperson from Leland didn’t return requests by press. 

Fire service, which has been operational in Leland since 1959, will move out in May and operate out of stations 51 and 53. Hayes, who has worked in town since the late ‘80s, said the distribution of the two stations follow how the town is growing and will improve the service’s response time.

“The town looks a whole lot different now,” he said.

Another relocated facility will be animal control, which Richards said will be a major improvement over the former location. It will be renovated for about $100,000, according to Will Lear, town project manager.

It will have an office space for the animal control office with new kennels and more space so the town could opt to expand in the future. 

The animal services department is part of the Leland Police Department and only has one animal control officer, Kevin White, who responds to incidents of strays, aggressive animals and calls of abuse across the 22.7 square-mile town.

Leland Animal Services acts as a temporary holding facility for domestic animals for 72 hours. If an owner does not claim an animal within that time frame, it is moved to Brunswick County Animal Services.

Founders Park is being upgraded, pushing the facility to a new space as the town plans to expand Perry Avenue along the park

The new building is expected to be in use in October.

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